Theodore Roosevelt’s Contributions to America
Theodore Roosevelt once said Do what you can, with what you have, where you are because he believed in using the resources he had at the time to make the best out of the country he was given. Roosevelt set many policies in effect during his presidency that he felt would make the country better. Initially, he focused on labor issues by implementing the Square Deal.
The Coal Strike of 1902 also directed its focus on labor issues in the mining industry, which spoke to TR’s interests. A second policy Roosevelt believed would improve America was the Big Stick policy which sought to expand US military force to further the United States’ power in the world. During the Progressive Era overall, Roosevelt focused highly on preserving the nation’s environment by implementing many conservation efforts. He also made improvements to and revolutionized US foreign affairs by adding the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine. Additionally, Roosevelt helped to revolutionize the way blacks were treated in the nation and strived to help improve their lives through including them in his Square Deal policies and ending discrimination in public schools. Theodore Roosevelt was one of the very few American presidents who genuinely offered the people he led hope for their future by living up to and promoting the promise of the American Dream as evidenced by the many policies he implemented while in office.
Teddy Roosevelt addressed the issue between the laboring class and property owners and attempted to fix the problems with his own policy known as the Square Deal. The Square Deal was his effort to address the people about the problems between the laboring class and the property owners (Evans). He wanted them both to abide by the same rules. Roosevelt felt that having these two classes on a level playing field would help close the gap between them (Evans). This gave people more hope in achieving success in America because neither class would be afforded any advantages over the other when it came to enforcing policy. This affected America because Roosevelt made the country a fair playing field no matter what class they belonged to by stating,””fair play among all men, capitalists or wage workers, whether they conduct their private business as individuals or as members of organizations”” (Evans). Roosevelt felt that no matter what social standing or business position was held, people would still be subject to the same laws and receive no special treatment based on status. He felt people should not be put on different pedestals, but all on equal pedestals.
In addition, one of his largely noted efforts in the course of the Square Deal was the Coal Strike of 1902. The Coal Strike of 1902 was a conflict between the anthracite coal miners’ and the mine owners (Anthracite). The mine owners refused to negotiate with the mine operators for better working conditions and increased pay (Anthracite). The workers went on strike and as it continued Roosevelt was the first president to be called in to help find a resolution to this strike (Anthracite). Roosevelt Takes Command: 1902-1904 states milestones in American labor history (Jaycox). Strikes were treated as an “”uprising against property and public order”” and for the first time, they were treated differently and not associated as the enemy. Both the Square Deal and the Coal Strike of 1902 gave hope to the American people by offering opportunities for equality and a way to create a balance of power between corporations and their employees.
President Roosevelt found it necessary to build up the US military power to protect the nation. The Big Stick policy was issued to ensure that the US would have an active foreign policy to provide stability and order in the world (Bessemer). America’s naval power expanded and so did its overall military power which increased their influence and authority around the world (Bessemer). A famous quote by Theodore Roosevelt once said “”speak softly and carry a big stick”” (Bessemer). What Roosevelt meant by this was that the United States would listen, calmly state its position and withhold any acts of aggression unless necessary, always prepared to rally back. For example, TR felt strongly about having a strong navy because it would be essential for the US if they wanted to make significant change in the world (Bessemer). Clearly, Roosevelt believed in compromise rather than conflict. This policy gave America hope because once the US navy had expanded only Great Britain exceeded our naval power which provided that the United States could be a world power.
Furthermore, by implementing the Big Stick Policy, Roosevelt planned to send a message to the world by showing off the expanding US military power. He did so by sailing around the world and participating in the Great White Fleet (Smith). The great white fleet included 16 battleships that embarked on a 45,000 mile world tour to show off the naval power in the US (Smith). By showing off the naval power in the Great White Fleet, Roosevelt gave the people of America a sense of nationalism–pride in their country and hope for a promising a future that they could depend on. He hoped that the show, rather than the use, of American seapower would demonstrate the intentions and interests America had in building a relationship with Asia (Smith). Roosevelt wanted to show that the United States was becoming an even larger world power but this display would not come with physical contact. This connects back to Roosevelt’s famous quote speak softly and carry a big stick (Bessemer). The Great White Fleet and the Big Stick policy are both connected to Roosevelt’s passive aggressive behaviors.
One of Roosevelt’s most significantlegacies while in office was his conservation efforts to fix the way Americans treated the nation (Jaycox). Roosevelt takes Command: 1902-1904 explained that no president before him ever made an issue out of the nation’s exploitation of its natural resources Roosevelt was the first president to make the exploitation of natural resources a national issue. Many historians believe that his establishment of a conservation policy for America is the most significant legacy of his administration (Jaycox). Roosevelt was one of the few presidents to promote change for the environment of the nation. He did so by overseeing the establishment of five national parks. (Jaycox). The first being Crater Lake National Park, Oregon, in 1902 (Jaycox). The following year he established a federal wild bird refuge on pelican Island, Indian River, Florida, the first of 51 bird and four wildlife sanctuaries he created before leaving office in 1908 (Jaycox). He also set aside many areas in the nation as national monuments, including the Grand Canyon (Jaycox). Roosevelt’s policies mainly focused on the regulated use of resources in the nation (Jaycox). Roosevelt’s conservation efforts promoted great change in America and gave people hope for a promising future.
While Roosevelt was in office, Congress passed the National Reclamation Act which established the Bureau of Reclamation in the Department of the Interior to provide for the sale of public land in 16 western and southwestern states and utilized those funds to pay for dams, canals, reservoirs and other federal water projects (Jaycox). This act promoted Roosevelt’s commitment to preserving the environment by regulating the nation’s resources. Roosevelt cared about the environment because he realized if something is not done now our world will truly never be the same. His conservation efforts gave people hope and promise for a better country in the future because before his presidency no one had cared about exploiting the nation’s resources.
The Roosevelt Corollary added to the Monroe Doctrine was used to insure that the United States might become an international police power if necessary. Roosevelt proposed that the US might intervene in foreign affairs if threatened by a european power but only if necessary (Hastedt). This gave Americans hope because it assured them that their president wanted the US to stay an international power and not be overthrown by other countries. It gave Americans a sense of pride in their country. Additionally, America became an international police power in the western hemisphere and gained many countries trust during this time. Roosevelt Corollary stated “”chronic wrongdoing may ultimately require intervention by some civilized nation, and in the Western Hemisphere the adherence of the United States to the Monroe Doctrine may force the United States, however reluctantly, to the exercise of an international police power”” (Hastedt). If wrongdoings continue then the United States would express their power over other nations to provide stability in the Western Hemisphere. By doing so, Roosevelt sent a clear message: the United States of America is a new force not to be reckoned with.
Another issue on Roosevelt’s agenda was to address the problem of segregation and disenfranchisement that was put on him. Roosevelt took a public stance that he needed to cautiously address what he and all other white Americans saw as a problem (Jaycox). Roosevelt made it a plan to include everyone in his policies during his presidency Roosevelt was not free of the racial prejudices of his day, but he nonetheless made a principled effort to include black Americans in his Square Deal on a number of occasions during his first term (Jaycox). Roosevelt did not segregate against blacks and promoted his policies to include all people, not just the whites. He was one of the few presidents that did not discriminate against anyone. In 1902 Roosevelt nominated Dr. William Crum, an African-American physician, to replace a white man as collector of customs in Charleston and the whites were outraged (Jaycox). Southern Democrats in Congress created a campaign to block his confirmation and Roosevelt responded in the newspaper stating he believed it to be “”fundamentally wrong”” that “”the door of hope, the door of opportunity is not to be shut upon any man, no matter how worthy, purely upon the grounds of race or color”” (Jaycox). Roosevelt didn’t see a person’s abilities by the color of their skin. He put people in positions that he saw fit for their abilities with the priority of improving the nation by doing what he could with what he had where he was . In 1905 Dr. Crum was confirmed for the position (Jaycox).
Roosevelt had a history of taking action to improve the racial divide in the country; for example, when he was governor in 1898 he took action to outlaw racial discrimination in the state’s public schools in New York (Theodore). Theodore Roosevelt, African Americans and the South stated Roosevelt presidency would possibly herald more attention to the issue of black disenfranchisement in the South and some effort to appoint blacks to lower federal offices (Theodore). People felt that Roosevelt’s presidency would finally be a turning point in how blacks were treated and the level of jobs they would receive. Such passion and action on behalf of the president gave an immense amount of hope to the people of his nation by promising a future that would include some much needed racial stability.
Although Teddy Roosevelt passed many great policies, these policies had their drawbacks, which did not affect America very positively. The Square Deal was essentially conservative in its ways of using Hamiltonian means to meet Jeffersonian ends. This essentially means asserting individual rights for a national political community that would be lead by a strong national government. Roosevelt never fully resolved the Coal Strike of 1902 because although the workers received a ten percent pay increase they were never recognized by the union. In order for the Big Stick policy to be recognized throughout the world, Panama had to be invaded which contradicted Roosevelt’s plans for peace and prosperity. The Great White Fleet gave the world, specifically Japan, a giant target if they wanted to take out the United States navy. Roosevelt’s plan for this fleet could have potentially cost the United States their entire navy. Roosevelt’s conservation efforts were not established for preservation or protection of natural areas but more for the regulation of resources because he wanted to regulate them for the purpose of preservation and protection. The Roosevelt Corollary was an action plan that sought only to meet end results rather than fixing the problems that were at hand. Solutions to national debt were not solved quickly; they were rather taken slowly. Roosevelt’s improvements to racial issues did not completely abolish them because discrimination and segregation continued and still continues throughout history. His plans may not have gone as smoothly and as magnificently as expected or projected; however his policies and actions were steps that aimed for greatness, steps that thwarted America on a journey toward becoming the superpower it is today.
Throughout the duration of his presidency, Theodore Roosevelt was a pillar of the people, for the people. His actions gave the American people hope for a future because those actions were seen as opportunities that opened the door for all Americans, not just the powerful, wealthy, or white. All Americans had access to the promise of living the American Dream because Theodore Roosevelt acted as a vigilante hero who sought justice for his people. Roosevelt set forth many policies and acts to promote his ideas about how to improve our nation in positive ways. The Square Deal gave the American people the mindset that America is a place where equality is set to a high standard and no one will be discriminated against. The Coal Strike of 1902 showed that the Square Deal was being taken seriously and union workers were finally being heard. The Big Stick policy showed that America is now a raising power that cannot be stopped and we will go to whatever lengths necessary to make our power known. Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet showed the americans that the us was now not only a strong nation in an of itself but they were armed and ready to protect themselves being one of the largest navies in the world. Roosevelt’s conservation efforts gave the nation promise to a preserved environment by implementing his many conservation acts. Roosevelt’s addition to the Monroe Doctrine gave the american people hope that the US would now become a police force in the western hemisphere. Ensuring the safety of all americans. Roosevelt helped to ensure that the United States would be a place for all by improving racial issues and showing his views on race in society. Roosevelt offered Americans many opportunities for success and set a straight path for a bright future ahead.
Anthracite Coal Strike of 1902. Issues & Controversies in American History, Infobase, 2015. History, online.infobase.com/Auth/Index?aid=153349&itemid=WE52&articleId=1009407.
Bessemer, Glen. Big Stick Diplomacy. The Emergence of Modern America, Third Edition, Facts On File, 2017. History, online.infobase.com/Auth/Index?aid=153349&itemid=WE52&articleId=200086. Accessed 17 May 2018.
Evans, C. Wyatt. “”Square Deal.”” Dictionary of American History, edited by Stanley I. Kutler, 3rd ed., vol. 7, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2003, pp. 513-514. U.S. History In Context, https://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX3401804000/UHIC?u=mlin_w_ludlow&sid=UHIC&xid=69d56a5a. Accessed 17 May 2018.
Hastedt, Glenn. Roosevelt Corollary. Encyclopedia of American Foreign Policy, Second Edition, Facts On File, 2016. History, online.infobase.com/Auth/Index?aid=153349&itemid=WE52&articleId=166646. Accessed 17 May 2018.
Jaycox, Faith. Roosevelt Takes Command: 1902&Ndash;1904. Progressive Era, Facts On File, 2005. History, online.infobase.com/Auth/Index?aid=153349&itemid=WE52&articleId=210595. Accessed 17 May 2018.
Smith, David R. Great White Fleet. The Emergence of Modern America, Third Edition, Facts On File, 2017. History, online.infobase.com/Auth/Index?aid=153349&itemid=WE52&articleId=199703. Accessed 17 May 2018.
Theodore Roosevelt, African Americans and the South. A Companion to Theodore Roosevelt, Wiley-Blackwell, 2011. History, online.infobase.com/Auth/Index?aid=153349&itemid=WE52&articleId=369594.
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